Last summer, the world watched in horror as ISIS pushed tens of thousands of Yazidis off their land, and killed and enslaved countless others. But now that the Kurdish Peshmerga has retaken some of their territory from ISIS, many of the Yazidi refugees are returning home, and what they’re finding has pushed some of them over the edge.
Yazidis returning to their northern home area of Sinjar are uncovering one mass grave after another, evidence of Islamic State’s rule from last August until its fighters were driven back there late last year.
Now some are striking back. More than a dozen Sunni Arab residents told Reuters that armed groups of Yazidis raided four of their villages in Sinjar two weeks ago, killing at least 21 people. A further 17 went missing.
“It was an act of revenge by the Yazidis,” said 41-year-old Dhafer Ali Hussein from Sibaya, one of the affected villages. “The aim is to expel Arabs from the area so that only Yazidis remain: they want to change the map.”
I’m guessing that when you read the title of this article, you were expecting to hear about a persecuted people, finally getting revenge against ISIS and the people who collaborated with them. I know that’s what I was expecting when I first heard about this story. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, war does terrible things to people. It gives bad people the freedom to do bad things, and turns good people into zealots. Before ISIS arrived in Kurdistan, the region was fairly diverse. The Kurds are an ethnic group that worships several different religions, including Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity among others. Compared to the rest of the Iraq, they were getting along just fine, and had been living amongst each other for decades.
But the rage that has been inspired by ISIS’ cruelty, is starting to rear its ugly head in the region.
Residents of Sibaya, now staying in another village about 45 km (28 miles) away, say they helped Yazidis escape in August and stashed away their belongings for safekeeping, even though the jihadists punished those found doing so.
But Yazidis from the nearby Gohbal settlement say Arabs in the surrounding villages sided with Islamic State, looting their possessions and actively participating in what they call attempted genocide.
Sunni residents admitted several men from Sibaya had joined the militants but said they were killed or fled to Syria when Kurdish peshmerga forces drove Islamic State from the area in December.
After regaining control, the peshmerga confiscated weapons from Arab villagers, who began to receive threats from Yazidis, culminating in the attack on Sibaya and Chiri on Jan. 25.
The following day, Yazidi gunmen plundered and torched the nearby Arab villages of Khazuga and Sayer, whose residents had already fled. Peshmerga intervened to prevent attacks on two other villages.
Looking at this from the outside, it’s impossible for us to know who is right. We don’t know if these people were really ISIS collaborators, and we’ll probably never know. What we can be certain of, is that this kind of violence is going to escalate in the near future. This is how all racial and religious wars start.
All it takes is a small minority of extremists to attack one side, and extremists on the other side to seek revenge. In both cases, the moderate masses take the brunt of the damage, and are forced to side with the extremists for protection. Before you know it, millions of people who originally didn’t want to fight at all, now find themselves killing each other in the name of their God.
And that’s exactly what’s taking place. The Yazidis were persecuted by extremists, and now they’re taking it out on people who used to be their friends and neighbors. They’re stealing equipment, murdering civilians, and burning villages. I wonder how many extremists that will produce among the Arabs?
Meanwhile the Kurdish Military, who I might add already have their hands full with ISIS, now has to divert its forces to keep the peace and prevent these people from killing each other. This civil strife has the potential to sabotage all the progress that the Peshmerga has made against ISIS.
And that I guess, is the current state of the Middle East in a nutshell. We sent our soldiers there to fight under false pretenses, which only served to fuel the ethnic and religious tensions of the region. We then sent them home, leaving a power vacuum that could only be filled with lunatics. Now these people have started a cycle of violence that will not stop until there is no one left to fight. Hopefully, someone in Washington is learning their lesson, but I have my doubts.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .